2012-01-03 "Photography Is Not A Crime, Part 1" by David Gurney
Since unobtrusive recording of public meetings is a person’s right, specifically guaranteed by California state law, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative’s ludicrous defense of their illegal ban on photography and comment during their public meetings is completely off the scale in terms of the absurd.
But then, that’s nothing new for the MLPA “Initiative” and its “I-Team," the privately funded organization to create so-called "marine protected areas" on the California coast. (See The MLPAI: So “Transparent” – They Don’t Exist!: http://noyonews.net/?p=407).
Nonetheless, as we continue with our pending lawsuit against the “public/private” contractors of the MLPA Initiative, they continue to deny violating the law when they had me arrested for attempting to record during two-day state-sponsored public meetings.
Meanwhile, a Florida man has started a blog, “Photography Is Not A Crime” – that picked up over 500,000 views in both July and August of 2011. Carlos Miller focuses specifically on issues related to laws protecting the rights of photographers. He is supported by the National Press Photographers Association, and his blog has been featured in a veritable laundry list of national media outlets.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post from PINAC – on important facts everyone should know about your rights as a photographer to film, video or take pictures in public places.
For now, here is Carlos Miller’s “2011 Year in Review” - a comprehensive list of links relating to just some of the incidents of police and authoritarian abuse of power against the rights of professional and amateur photographers from the past year:
Hall of Shame: 2011 Year in Review (http://www.pixiq.com/article/2011-the-photography-is-not-a-crime-year-in-review)
St. Louis cops were caught on video beating a man in a gas station, earning the honor of having the first viral police abuse video of 2011.
But San Francisco cops stepped it up a notch a few days later when they were caught on video shooting a man in a wheelchair.
Meanwhile, an enraged Honolulu cop grabbed a camera out of a woman’s hands and slammed it on top of the car after she had attempted to video record President Barack Obama.
The Transportation Security Administration was still going through a lot of scrutiny over the newly introduced body scanners, so I tested out their knowledge of their own photography policy on a trip to Bogota. Not surprisingly, the TSA official who confronted me about video recording the checkpoint had no clue about the policy, but fortunately, he took the time to read it when I showed it to him.
Shortly after, a man named Phil Mocek was cleared of all criminal charges from a 2009 incident where he was arrested for video recording a TSA checkpoint.
In Florida, a man was arrested for video recording cops in Tampa after he refused to hand over his camera as evidence. Charges were dropped a month later.
And Homeland Security issued a directive that confirmed it is legal to video record or photograph federal buildings.
Legislators in New Mexico approved an unconstitutional resolution requiring citizens to ask permission before photographing them.
Then a Florida legislator introduced a bill that would have made it a felony to photograph a farm from the side of the road.
And a Connecticut senator introduced a bill that would not only guarantee the rights of citizens to record police, but hold police accountable when they prevent citizens from recording them.
Federal security guards in Washington D.C. deleted footage from a man’s camera after he video recorded a courthouse, proving that January’s new directive was only worth the paper it was written on.
I filed a lawsuit over the incident in which I was assaulted by a security guard on the Miami-Dade Metrorail, which is still pending.
But that did nothing to stop the harassment of photographers by these very same security guards.
A New York senator received probation for chasing down and attacking a photojournalist who had tried to photograph him in public.
TSA officials continued to ignore their own policy by forbidding a mother from video recording them patting down a toddler.
A New Orleans cop violently smacked a camera out of the hands of a man as he was videotaping them making an arrest.
A crazy lady attacked me in Miami for attempting to photograph a fish. Yes, a fish.
Police in New Hampshire continued to use their state’s wiretapping laws to arrest people recording them, even though the charges never stick.
A Seattle journalist was harassed and pulled over for photographing a refinery from a public street.
And Illinois, which already has the most Draconian laws regarding the audio recording of cops in public, attempted to pass a law that would ban the photography of traffic accidents.
An Arkansas state trooper who made PINAC headlines in 2008 after arresting a photojournalist turned out to be a photographer himself.
A Las Vegas cop beat a man for video recording him from his front yard. And didn’t get fired for it until this month.
So naturally police in California knew they could get away with handcuffing a man for video recording them from his own garage.
Meanwhile, a New Orleans photojournalist was arrested and charged with battery on a police officer after trying to photograph a traffic accident.
And TSA officials continued to ignore their own policy when they detained a man in Dallas for attempting to record his own pat down.
And three men who actually made it inside a plane began taking pictures, forcing it to return to the starting gate.
Milwaukee police broadside a woman, so naturally they attack a photojournalist who showed up to take pictures, including breaking his camera.
A Massachusetts man was distraught that his barn was burning down, so he took out his anger on a man who was taking pictures for the fire department.
El Paso cops didn’t like the fact that a man was recording them making a traffic stop, so they called his boss and tried to get him in trouble, even though he broke no law.
And Pennsylvania police forced a man to delete his images after he photographed a power plant from a public road.
Miami Beach police shot and killed a man, then went after another man who video recorded the shooting, ordering him out of the car at gunpoint where they threw his phone against the sidewalk. The video made it online anyway. After months of international news reports, the Miami Beach Police Department issued new guidelines to its officers in how to deal with photographers.
Phil Mocek, who was arrested for video recording a TSA checkpoint in 2009, was arrested for taking pictures in front of a federal building in Seattle.
Joey Boots was harassed, detained and cited for photographing armed soldiers inside a New York City subway station.
A Miami man was told he was guilty of a felony for photographing a whale.
Philadelphia police arrested a man for uploading an audio recording of them harassing him for legally open carrying a gun.
A Wisconsin State Capitol staffer who apparently worked as a photographer grabbed another man’s video camera after a heated political discussion, which was the first of many assaults and arrests against photographers in the capitol this year.
A North Dakota teenager who knew his rights ended up getting arrested for video recording a cop from a respectable distance.
New Jersey attempted to pass a law banning the photography of children.
South Florida cops once again arrest a citizen for recording them in public, even though state law does not give police an expectation of privacy in public.
A Rochester woman who was video recording a cop from her front yard ended up getting arrested, shining the national spotlight on a town that often gets ignored, which prompted police to take retaliatory measures against citizens.
Fort Lauderdale police began threatening photographers with arrest for taking pictures outside a movie set, which prompted me to organize a protest and straighten them out.
TSA insinuated they were going to ban photography at checkpoints, but then insisted they would never do such a thing after the National Press Photographers Association stepped in.
A video emerged showing a Niagara Frontier Transit Authority cop threatening to “fucking break” the face of a man who dared video record him in public. The NPPA once again stepped in and helped the NFTA draft a new photo policy to educate its officers.
A pair of journalists were arrested for trying to cover a public meeting in Washington D.C. while another journalist was escorted out of a public meeting in Virginia for photographing a public official.
And once again, a man was detained for photographing a federal building.
A woman was escorted off a US Airways flight after she photographed the name tag of a rude employee named Tonialla G.
United Airlines then threatened to place a woman on the no-fly list after she photographed the name tag of a rude employee.
A Suffolk County police sergeant who bragged about his 30 years experience on the force arrested a news videographer for recording a traffic accident on a public street.
A citizen with a cell phone camera captured the chilling screams of a homeless man being beaten to death by Fullerton police officers. We later learned that police confiscated several cameras that night.
TSA officials continued to show their ignorance of their own photo policy.
The Washington Attorney General who is running for governor called the cops on a man who was recording him in a public meeting.
Military police threatened to confiscate the cameras from a wedding photographer because he was shooting too close to Arlington National Cemetery, which happens to be the most photographed cemetery in the country.
An Idaho man was stigmatized by the media and interrogated by police for photographing his grandson in a public park.
And a New Hampshire judge was caught on video ordering a false arrest because he did not appreciate being recorded against his wishes.
An Ohio Congressman received loads of negative publicity after he had cameras confiscated from citizens in a town hall meeting.
Parents in Minnesota were told they would no longer be allowed to photograph their children in a public pool, even though the pool staff had the right to photograph them for advertising. After the story went up on PINAC, the pool quickly changed its policy.
Police in Long Beach, California admitted that they are trained to harass citizens who are not taking photos of “esthetic value.”
Massachusetts police arrested a man on wiretapping charges who recorded an argument he was having with a cop on a traffic stop.
Less than a week later, a Massachusetts district attorney said that police do not have an expectation of privacy in public, which is why wiretapping laws shouldn’t apply to these types of cases. But that, of course, had no bearing on the above case.
A third video emerged of a Canton cop threatening to kill a citizen during a traffic stop.
A man was arrested for refusing to show identification after he was confronted for video recording outside a FEMA checkpoint.
A man who was selling lemonade on the streets as a form of activism was assaulted, then threatened with wiretapping charges when he insisted on video recording his actions.
A Capitol cop assaulted a videographer during a lemonade protest in Washington D.C.
A professional videographer from California who was in Miami for an assignment was arrested for threatening to blow up the Israeli consulate after he refused to stop videotaping the outside of a building. He was just acquitted.
And, of course, TSA officials continued to show their ignorance about their own photo policy when they detained a man for two hours after he photographed them lounging about.
The Occupy Wall Street movement began, which captured several instances of police abuse on the cameras of activists.
Not to be outdone by their republican counterparts, Ohio democrats ordered a republican blogger to not record a town hall meeting.
A cop in Miami told a friend of mine who is a Cop Block contributor that “we can videotape you, but you don’t have the right to videotape us.”
A Google street view car captured a naked woman in her front yard in Miami, which should be required reading for anybody who thinks they have an expectation of privacy in public.
The Draconian wiretapping law in Illinois, which allows cops to record us, but forbids us from recording cops without their consent, was put to the test when a judge threw out a case ruling it unconstitutional and the ACLU prepared arguments to get the law changed.
A group of activists in Wisconsin were dragged out of a public meeting for insisting on recording it.
And a Longshoreman who introduced himself to reporters as Mr. Fuck You Cocksucker because they wanted to interview him on camera was arrested for damage he inflicted during a protest against a company during a union standoff.
The Occupy Wall Street movement began spreading around the country because of those police abuse videos that kept emerging from New York, which led to more police abuse videos and journalist arrests, but also many videos of the activists themselves threatening videographers and reporters.
A little-known law in Washington D.C. was exposed, which allowed police to arrest people for standing in one area for more than five minutes taking photos.
An Indiana man was arrested for photographing a traffic accident but the charges were quickly dropped.
A cop in Pennsylvania threatened to arrest a man on wiretapping charges, even though it is a well-established fact that cops in that state do not have an expectation of privacy.
And a cop in Massachusetts told a student recording him in public to “shut the fucking thing off before I slap you.” He was eventually disciplined.
An Oakland cop fired a rubber bullet at a man who dared video record him. The cop was eventually identified and disciplined.
Pennsylvania cops continued to hold on to the myth that they could lawfully arrest people on wiretapping charges who record them in public.
South Florida cops also continued to hold on to that myth.
Senator Bill Nelson’s intern threatened to sue me for video recording him without his consent, but I have yet to hear a thing. Maybe next year.
Wisconsin activists continued getting arrested for video recording public meetings.
A UC Davis cop pepper sprayed a group of student protesters not caring if every witness had a camera. As a result, the image became an internet meme which he will never live down.
Occupy Oakland activists proved to have a serious disdain for those who video record them.
NYPD cops continued to crackdown on journalists as Mayor Bloomberg’s flack made himself look like an ass in trying to justify the arrests.
A Youtube video proved a Dallas cop to be a liar.
And a reporter in California was assaulted as she investigated who pooped and peed on the bank.
LAPD cops assaulted a photographer, then charged him with assaulting them.
And a video emerged proving that LAPD lied in what took place before they arrested a journalist.
And NYPD continued to harass journalists, even though they promised they wouldn’t do so anymore.
Cop Block founder Adam “Ademo Freeman” Mueller – who is always good about informing the cops he calls that he is recording the conversation – failed to do so one time and was charged with wiretapping.
A nude woman living with pigs as part of an art display did not want to be photographed, so naturally, I photographed her, just to see how her security guards would react.
A Virginia man has one hell of a lawsuit on his hands after he was arrested for recording cops in public.
A former senator from West Virginia proved not to have a firm grasp of the law when she deleted photos she took at a mall after a security guard ordered her to do so.
And a pair of grandparents were ejected from a shopping mall after photographing their grandson.
Thanks Carlos, and Happy New Year!